Turkish terrorist militants take prosecutor hostage in Istanbul

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UPDATE: According to a Reuters report, prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz has since died from his wounds.

A Turkish prosecutor is undergoing surgery for life-threatening injuries after members from a banned leftist group took him hostage on Tuesday.

Mehmet Selim Kiraz was investigating the death of 14-year-old Berkin Elvan, who died after a police gas canister struck him in the head during the 2013 anti-government protests. Elvan spent nine months in a coma before succumbing to injuries on March 11.

Members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front — also known as the DHKP-C — entered Kiraz’s office on the 6th floor of the Çağlayan Justice Palace around noon.

Shortly after, they posted a photo of one of the members posing with his gun against Kiraz’s head. Several disturbing versions of the scene circulated the internet, some of which showed Kiraz with his hands tied and his mouth taped shut.

DHKP-C released a statement that it would kill Kiraz in three hours — 3:36 local time — if its demands were not met.

The captors demanded a public apology from the officer who shot Berkin, a people’s court trial instead of a state court trial and a drop in charges brought against protesters who rallied in support of Berkin’s family.

The group also demanded a safe exit for the captors, who hid their faces with flags.

Berkin’s father posted a video to Twitter in response to the hostage situation, telling the DHKP-C members not to hurt the prosecutor.

“We don’t want other mothers to cry like we did,” he said.

By Tuesday evening, a rescue operation was underway. Initial reports indicated special forces officers had killed three captors, but that number was later corrected to two.

The United States, the European Union and Turkey all list the DHKP-C as a terrorist organization.

Officials did not explain how the militants entered the secure building, but most of Turkey -- including Istanbul -- was experiencing the country’s worst power blackout in 15 years.

DHKP-C (gunmen) outside of justice palace, 6th floor of palace highlighted
Special ops listen to two gunshots from inside office
Gunman poses for picture with hostage Mehmet Selim Kiraz
Clock shows terrorists’ allotted time until they kill hostage
Turkish police stand guard outside justice palace
Map shows same-day power outage in most of Turkey

VOICEOVER (in English):
Militants from the banned group DHKP-C entered the Turkish prosecutor’s office on the 6th floor of the Çağlayan Justice Palace on Tuesday.

Turkey’s special forces reported hearing two gunshots from inside the office, but did not report any injuries.

A member of the terrorist organization posed for a picture with Prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz and posted it online, along with the group’s demands. The DHKP-C said it would kill Kiraz in three hours if its demands were not met.

Several hours after the deadline, negotiators spoke with two members of the terrorist group, while police stood guard outside the evacuated building.

Normally the justice building in Istanbul is secure. But earlier that morning, most of Turkey -- including its major cities -- suffered the worst power blackout in 15 years.

SOURCES: Reuters, Al Jazeera, CNN, USA Today, BBC